National TT squad for Olympic qualifiers announced

Shillong, Feb 10 (IANS) National table tennis champions Anthony Amalraj and Manika Batra will spearhead the six-member Indian squad for the Asian Olympic qualifiers which was announced here on Wednesday.

Apart from two-time men’s national champion Amalraj, the Indian men’s squad also includes Achanta Sharath Kamal (singles) and the doubles team of Sathiyan Gunanasekharan and Soumyajith Ghosh.

In the women’s squad, Mouma Das — who played at the 2004 Athens Olympics — will compete in the singles along with reigning national champion Batra. Shamini Kumaresan and Pooja Sahasrabuddhe will feature in the women’s doubles.

The six will compete in the Asian qualification round for the Rio Olympics in Hong Kong from April 13-17.

“The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) has also selected Batra, Sharath and Ghosh to compete for 2016 Asian Cup table tennis championship in Dubai from April 24-28,” TTFI secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary told IANS here.

Exuding confidence that the Indian paddlers will qualify for the Rio Olympics, national coach Vijaya Sarathi said, “We are confident that the team will qualify for Rio as they (players) have been performing very well and here at South Asian Games.”

“Once we qualified, the players would be sent for further training in Sweden and Germany,” he added.

Batra told IANS that she is focused on securing a berth for the Rio Games to realise her ultimate dream of wining an Olympic medal.

“My dream now is to represent India at the Rio Olympics. I am focused on preparing myself and maintaining a good performance to compete but let us hope I get qualified for it (Olympics),” Manika said.

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